Population genetic theory suggests that mating designs employing one or more generations of sib-crossing or selfing prior to backcrossing are more effective than backcrossing alone for moving alleles across linkage groups where effective recombination rates are low (e.g., chromosomally divergent linkages). To test this hypothesis, we analyzed the effects of chromosomal structural differences and mating designs on the frequency and genomic distribution of introgressed markers using the domesticated sunflower, Helianthus annuus, and one of its wild relatives, H. petiolaris, as the experimental system. We surveyed 170 progeny, representing the end products of three different mating designs (design I, P-F1-BC1-BC2-F2-F3; design II, P-F1-F2-BC1-BC2-F3; and design III, P-F1-F2-F3-BC1-BC2), for 197 parental RAPD markers of known genomic location. Comparison of observed patterns of introgression with expectations based on simulations of unrestricted introgression revealed that much of the genome was protected from introgression regardless of mating design or chromosomal structural differences. Although the simulations indicated that all markers should introgress into multiple individuals in each of the three mating designs, 20 of 58 (34%) markers from collinear linkage groups, and 112 of 139 (81%) markers from rearranged linkage groups did not introgress. In addition, the average size of introgressed fragments (12.2 cM) was less than half that predicted by theoretical models (26-33 cM). Both of these observations are consistent with strong selection against introgressed linkage blocks, particularly in chromosomally divergent linkages. Nonetheless, mating designs II and III, which employed one and two generations of sib-mating, respectively, prior to backcrossing, were significantly more effective at moving alleles across both collinear and rearranged linkages than mating design I, in which the backcross generations preceded sib-mating. Thus, breeding strategies that include sib-crossing, in combination with backcrossing, should significantly increase the effectiveness of gene transfer across complex genic or chromosomal sterility barriers.